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Where the jobs are : The Standard

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You stand a higher chance of landing a job in the food industry, with the latest official data showing that the sub-sector churned out the most jobs in four years to 2018.
However, data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) sounded a warning bell to those engaged in the manufacture of vegetable and animal oils and fats, as this sub-sector shed a staggering 12,743 jobs in the period under review.
The 2018 Statistical Abstract shows that the number of workers engaged in the manufacture of food products increased by 13,431 between 2014 and 2018, a boon for President Uhuru Kenyatta’s ambition to ensure food security and nutrition for all Kenyans by 2022.
SEE ALSO :From banks to farms, economy bleeding jobsThose with an eye for plumbing, heat and air-conditioning installation can be hopeful if past performance in job creation is anything to go by. This area experienced job growth of 52 per cent, with the number of Kenyans eking a living from the sub-sector increasing from 3,129 in 2014 to 4,753.
Other economic activities that had an impressive performance in job creation were in warehousing and storage, which experienced a 47 per cent growth in job creation, and data processing, web hosting and related activities, which employed an additional 2,502 people as Kenya strives to live up to the challenge of being Africa’s Silicon Savannah.
Other top creators were water collection, treatment and supply, specialised construction activities, general public administration activities, and manufacture of clothes.
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But the new data also revealed that there was a job heamorrhage in the manufacturing sector, with at least 15,000 jobs being lost in the last four years to 2018.
Extension officers who support crop and animal production have reduced, a situation that has contributed to the poor productivity in farming and livestock rearing.
SEE ALSO :Kenyans mock ex-MP Mary Wambui’s appointmentIn what is a worrying trend, only agriculture and manufacturing, which are at the heart of the president’s Big Four Agenda, have experienced negative growth in jobs.
Moreover, most of the jobs are being created at the expense of these critical sectors, with millions of shillings leaving farms and factories to low-volume employers such as IT. This pace of transition seems to have picked up since 2009.
The job losses touched 18 manufacturing sub-sectors in what has been blamed on the increased cost of production, including the high cost of electricity, punitive taxes, bureaucracy and high cost of credit, a big blow to one of Uhuru’s Big Four Agenda.
The affected sub-sectors include textile, manufacturing, fish, vegetable and fruit processing that have been identified as part of Uhuru’s job creation ambition under the Big Four Agenda. Manufacturing is expected to create one million jobs by the time the president leaves office in two years.
Current figures could even be worse given that the other affected sub-sector, sugar manufacturing, for example, has seen even more job losses owing to the closure of Mumias Sugar, once the country’s biggest sugar miller. Other sugar millers like Chemelil and Nzoia are struggling financially.
SEE ALSO :Job scam alert! EABL denies mass recruitment The government would like to create at least a million new manufacturing jobs. But this is quite ambitious given that in the last four years to 2018, only 20,136 new jobs were created and as many lost in what is turning into a zero-sum game.
The shining star is the manufacture of food, which increased by 68 per cent in the period under review.
With the economy going through some turbulence, President Kenyatta’s government has switched gears in the hope of turbo-charging the business investment.
Jobs have also declined in processing and preserving of fruits and vegetables. Processing and preserving of fish, another Big Four item, has experienced a decline in the number of jobs created.
Other job losers include the manufacture of cocoa, chocolate and sugar confectionery; distilling, rectifying and blending of spirits; manufacture of tobacco products; and sawmilling and planing of wood.
SEE ALSO :Sakaja: I will block Mary Wambui’s appointmentManufacture of wood, soap detergents, refined petroleum, plastic products and ceramics also declined.
Growth of jobs in sectors such as plumbing confirms employers’ fears that while there is increased demand in such sectors, there are no skills to match it.
“Whilst there is an increasing and significant demand for skilled workers in Kenya, there is a mismatch between the skills needed by industry and skills taught in higher institutions of learning,” said Phylis Wakiaga, the CEO of Kenya Association of Manufacturers.
Ms Wakiaga noted that labour productivity was essential for manufacturing competitiveness.
“Lack of relevant skills and competencies can be detrimental to the industry in terms of production and wastage,” she said.
The government has tried to cure this problem by promoting the growth of technical and vocational training centres.
Lately, high-ranking government officials have spent the better part of the working days trying to figure out how they can put money into people’s pockets, burning the midnight oil as they sought to end a cash crisis that has snuffed life out of several businesses and left scores jobless.
The president’s wrath has travelled through the government circles, culminating in an ultimatum by acting Treasury CS Ukur Yatani to State corporations and county governments to pay suppliers close to Sh137 billion by December 1.
Fifteen counties risk not receiving their conditional grants should they fail to pay suppliers, while 53 State corporations will not get their allocations for the current financial year should they fail to settle their pending bills.
“Cases of individuals and firms experiencing unmet financial obligations, including failure to repay loans, are widespread all over the country,” Mr Yatani said.
Bad loans as a fraction of total loans have increased from a low of 4.7 per cent in December 2012 to 12.5 per cent currently.

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Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard

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Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.

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However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
SEE ALSO: Thinking inside the cardboard box for post-lockdown work stations
Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
SEE ALSO: Working from home could be blessing in disguise for persons with disabilities
Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.

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Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard

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President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
SEE ALSO: Sakaja resigns from Covid-19 Senate committee, in court tomorrow

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Drastic life changes affecting mental health

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Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.

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Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.

Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.

The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.

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With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.

In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020.  It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.

A study by Dr. Habil Otanga,  a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says  that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.

The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.

KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.

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Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.

As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.

“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”

Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.

“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.

Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.

“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”

Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.

“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.

Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.

Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.

She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.

Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.

“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added

Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.

“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and  also engage in   reading that would  help expand their knowledge.

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